Wednesday, May 31, 2023
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Heller, McDonald and Bruen are Affecting How State Legislatures View Pending Gun Control Legislation

[Heller and McDonald] allowed opponents to wage new battles against longstanding gun laws. When District Judge Roger Benitez overturned California’s 34-year-old assault weapons ban two years ago, he pointed to Heller, saying that under the decision, “it is obvious that the California assault weapon ban is unconstitutional.”

Because the Heller ruling applied to guns in common use, the sheer volume of semi-automatic rifles in America protects them under the Second Amendment, according to Mark Oliva, a spokesperson for the National Shooting Sports Federation.

“There are currently 24.4 million of these rifles in circulation today,” Oliva said. “To put that into context for you, there are more of these rifles in circulation today than there are F-150s on the road.” …

Eight more states have laws similar to California’s assault weapons ban that could be affected if the Supreme Court ultimately weighs in.

The expectation that these laws may be doomed is already complicating the politics of passing new ones like them.

In New Mexico, Democratic Gov. Michelle Luján Grisham has repeatedly urged the legislature to send her an assault weapons ban to sign this session, but lawmakers tabled the effort — partly over concerns that it wouldn’t withstand scrutiny in federal court.

“There’s absolutely no point to passing new laws which federal courts will strike down and which are clearly going to be deemed unconstitutional,” state Sen. Joseph Cervantes, a Democrat, tweeted last month.

With those lawsuits still playing out, the future of gun policy remains in flux. But that legal panorama makes it hard to imagine clear lanes for reform in the near future.

“We’re in a very difficult spot with that Bruen ruling,” said Miranda Viscoli, co-president of New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence. “Even though it was only about concealed carry, it’s just made everybody afraid who wants to pass common sense gun violence prevention legislation.”

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